NOC for high-rises within 15km of old airport still mandatory: CAA

Updated April 07, 2019

Email

A general view of the newly-built Islamabad International Airport. — AFP/File
A general view of the newly-built Islamabad International Airport. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA), which had recently notified no-height limit for high-rises, received a setback as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has linked the construction of buildings with a non-objection certificate (NOC) from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Sources in the federal government told Dawn that through a notification dated April 1 the CAA told the civic agency that NOC from PAF for high-rise buildings in the vicinity of Nur Khan Air Base was still mandatory in accordance with the National Airfield Clearance Policy (NACP).

The letter (available with Dawn) stated that after the operationalisation of new Islamabad International Airport (IIA) on May 3, 2018, PAF Base Nur Khan (old Benazir Bhutto International Airport) was no longer being used for civil air operations.

Any waiver will constitute a serious flight safety concern and pose a potential hazard to PAF air operation from Nur Khan Air Base, notification says

However, regular PAF operations and VVIP/VIP movements are still conducted from this air base. This necessitates ensuring and implementing the NACP.

“PAF is the competent authority to issue NOC for high-rise buildings within 15 km of PAF Base Nur Khan as per NACP and Works of Defence Act 1903. The waiver in this regard constitutes a serious flight safety concern and would pose a potential hazard to PAF air operation from PAF base Nur Khan unless appropriate measures are instituted. Being major aviation stakeholders, the importance of PAF operation cannot be overruled,” read the letter.

“Foregone in view, NOC from PAF for high-rise buildings in the vicinity of PAF Base [is] still mandatory. PAF would be available for any meeting if required,” it added.

When contacted, an officer of the CDA planning wing confirmed to Dawn that the civic agency had received the letter.

He said the CDA would seek a clarification from CAA whether its letter also linked construction of high-rises in Blue Area with the NOC from PAF. In an earlier notification, the CAA had lifted the ban in Blue Area.

The bar on high-rise buildings in Islamabad was resolved last year after the CDA secured no-height limits in certain areas, including Blue Area, from the CAA.

Prime Minister Imran Khan

recently directed the CDA and CAA to resolve the issue of height restriction to encourage vertical structures to attract investors and preserve green areas in Islamabad.

Following the directive, CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed and CAA authorities held a number of meetings and discussed the matter.

The CAA then issued a notification stating the additional area within the Outer Horizontal Surface (OHS) - 500 feet above ground level limit surface - of the old BBIA, which was around 150 square kilometres, had been exempted from the height limitation of 500 feet above ground level for planning high-rise buildings by the CDA.

CDA officials explained that the exemption would apply to buildings on the eight kilometre strip of Blue Area from F-6/G-6 to F-9/G/9 and a small portion of other urban area.

Earlier, the CDA used to encourage horizontal construction and allowed maximum height of buildings to be 420 feet.

According to the CAA notification issued last month, the area outside OHS (500 feet above ground level limit surface) of the old BBIA would have no height restriction for the CDA.

The additional area, which is around 150 sq km, had also been exempted from the height limitation of 500 feet above ground level for planning high-rise buildings.

The areas north of funnel area of the old BBIA would also stand cleared for building structures up to 500 feet above

ground level and no prior height clearance form CAA would be required by the CDA, the previous CAA notification had stated.

However, sources said the CDA would consult the CAA over the new notification to know the fresh limits.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2019